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Five Dollars, Five Ways: Dollar Store Activities for Kids — Imagination and Exploration {Series}

It’s starting to get cold and rainy. The kids can’t go outside as much, and they have some days off school coming soon. Besides being frugal, the simple activities in this Five Dollars, Five Ways will foster creativity, promote imaginative exploration, practice fine motor skills, and nurture independent play while working on skills such as sorting and patterns.

First, in the party and hostess section, I found a three sectioned platter and an egg platter. You could choose to get one or both.


You’re not going blind. Clear things are hard to photograph!

I bought rocks, snowflake ornaments, fake leaves, “table scatter” shaped like pumpkins, fake lemons, fake green apples, and fake red apples. The rocks and fake fruits were in the craft/floral section. Everything else was in a seasonal section at the front of the store.


I also found some “table scatter” shaped like leaves. They also carried birds and butterflies that I thought would be nice for a Spring theme. You never know what you will find!

leaves birds butterflies

No matter how many platters or other items you buy, you must include jumbo plastic clothespins in your $5 budget. Trust me.


Activity 1: Sorting


Put your small objects (whether they are fake fruit, leaves, or what have you) in a bowl or basket. Place your bowl beside your three sectioned tray. If you did not buy the three sectioned tray, you can use the egg platter, a chips and dip tray, or a couple of small bowls. Encourage your child to sort the objects by color, shape, or whatever makes sense. Demonstrate what to do for a younger child; allow older children to figure it out for themselves.



Activity 2: Patterns


Place your small objects in the center of the egg platter. If you did not buy the egg platter, you can place your objects in a small bowl, and put it in the middle of a rimmed cookie sheet. Encourage your child to make a pattern around the edge of the platter. Demonstrate what to do to a younger child; allow older children to figure it out for themselves.


Activity 3: Tong Transferring

Place your small objects in the three sectioned tray, and invite your child to use tongs to move each object from the tray to a bowl. You could also do tonging from the bowl to the tray, from a bowl to the egg platter, or from one bowl to another bowl. I already had these large tongs, but I saw similar large tongs at the dollar store. Ice tongs work really well. If your child is having difficulty with using the tongs, this activity also works well using a spoon for transferring the objects.


Activity 4: Bowl of Rocks

This one is simple. Put rocks (or fake fruit, leaves, etc.) into a big bowl. Let your child do whatever they are inspired to do. If you are worried about rocks and your windows/table/floor, either cover your table or move your child outside (weather permitting).


Activity 5: Blanket Fort

Those jumbo clothespins I said you had to have? Here’s why. They make the best blanket forts. We’ve tried many blankets and chairs and these clothespins consistently work well. None have broken yet, and after buying our first pack, I went back and bought a second pack so we could have even more fun. I’ve seen similar items specifically for forts sold online, and they were much more expensive. These are probably my favorite dollar store find of all time (well, besides water beads)!



All of these activities make perfect invitations to play and learn. Before your child gets up in the morning, wakes up from a nap, or returns home from school, set up one of these activities on your kitchen table and then see what happens!

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One Response to Five Dollars, Five Ways: Dollar Store Activities for Kids — Imagination and Exploration {Series}

  1. Jennifer Tilson November 21, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    I need to look for those “fort building” clips! They’d get used at our house!

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